Before making your information request
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 gives you the right to request information held by the Council.
The Council makes certain information proactively available to the public via a number of means. Before lodging your request, it is important that you check whether the information you are seeking is already available to you.
If this is the case, the Council is not obliged to deal with your request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Please first check the following sources:
Who can request information under FOI?
Anyone can request information under the Act, regardless of age, nationality or location.
What information is available?
Any information held by the Council is eligible for release. However, a number of exemptions may apply.
How do I make a request?
Your request must be made in writing. You can submit your request via email, fax or by mail. Your request must include:
- your name
- your address (email address is accepted)
- a description of the information you wish to obtain
- any preferences for the format for receiving the information
The Council does not have to respond to broad requests for information. Please be as specific as possible, and ensure that the description of the information you require is clear and detailed to enable us to identify and locate the information you are seeking.
If we do not have enough information in order to find what you are seeking, we may come back to you with more questions.
What happens when I make a request?
When the Council receives a request for information, we must respond promptly, and not later than 20 working days after receiving your request.
We will consider your request, and reply. The reply should confirm or deny whether or not we hold the information, and either provide the information you requested, or explain why it has not been provided.
What does it cost?
The Government has signalled that the Council may levy a charge if the work required to retrieve the requested information costs more than £450.
The Council reserves the right to charge for disbursements eg. photocopying.
If we intend to charge a fee, we will send you a fees notice and you then have three months in which to pay. Once we receive the fee we will then respond to your request.
If the cost of meeting your request exceeds the appropriate limit in the regulations, we are not required to meet your request. If you refuse to pay the fee, the Council can refuse to supply the information.
What happens if my request is refused?
A request for information may only be refused if:
- it is vexatious or repeated
- if we have asked you for more information in order to meet your request and you have not provided it
- if it falls under one of the exemptions
If your request is refused, we will explain why and give you details of how to apply for an internal review of this decision. For details on how to make a complaint, see below. If, after an internal review, the Council still refuses your request, you may ask the Information Commissioner to review that decision.
How many requests can I make?
The Act does not specifically limit the number of requests you can make. However, the Act states that the Council can reserve the right to refuse any vexatious or repeated requests. This may include repeated requests from the same person for the same information, or requests which are intended to disrupt the Council's work.
How can I use the information I receive?
The Freedom of Information Act does not place restrictions on how the information supplied under it may be used. However, the Act does provide for exemptions for commercially sensitive information, information intended for future publication or information related to investigations, law enforcement and court records.
The Act does not transfer copyright in any information supplied under it.
Can I ask for the information in a different format?
You may request that the information be supplied in any form. However, the Council is required to meet your wishes as far as it is practicable. We may also take into account the cost of supplying the information in this form before complying with your request.
In particular, you may ask for information in permanent form, in summary form, or for permission to inspect records containing the information.
Advice and assistance
The Council is under a duty to provide you with help and assistance with your information request. Please direct any queries to:
Making a complaint
The Council has an internal complaints process for handling FOI Act complaints. Complaints are reviewed by the Chief Solicitor and Monitoring Officer or her nominee.
Following this review, should you still be unhappy with how your information request has been handled, you have a further right to appeal to the Information Commissioner who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the FOI Act.